A foster care agency is a government-sponsored organization that works with local courts and child protection services to provide alternative accommodations to children who cannot, for whatever reason, reside with their parents anymore. These children are given unto the custody of temporary foster parents who watch over them until they can be transferred to more permanent locations. Most foster children are eventually returned to their parents, returned to other family members, adopted by another family, or made permanent wards of the state.
These agencies are essentially a middleman that serves to uphold the best interests of a child. When a situation arises in a family, such as the death of parents or the sudden outbreak of domestic violence, a foster care agency takes the child away from the bad situation. The goal is to eventually return the child to his or her actual home, but more often than not the child must be given to someone else who is more responsible.
Typically, children who have some sort of disorder, whether it’s a medical issue, a behavioral problem, or a learning disability, have the most difficulty getting adopted by foster parents. These children end up becoming permanent wards of a foster care agency. This entails living in a foster care community center or group home with other like-minded children and state-funded foster care agents. Foster care agency workers are men and women of a certain age who possess no criminal history and have successfully proven that they are responsible and financially secure.
Foster care agencies differ from orphanages in that children are provided with more one-on-one parenting. Instead of being housed with dozens or more other children, a foster child is placed into a smaller environment with no more than five to ten other kids. This may be in the best emotional and psychological interest of the child, though there are those who argue against this.
Many studies of foster care agencies have revealed that foster children tend to suffer more problems than normal children. These include higher rates of depression, suicide, poor nutrition, emotional neglect, and homelessness. Adding to the problem is that as soon as a foster child turns 18, he or she is essentially kicked to the curb and expected to automatically become a responsible adult. Many governments are trying to curb this by giving incentives to employers who work with foster care agencies to provide training and potential employment options to foster children.